There’s a first time for everything. The Rowan men’s indoor track and field team had two such instances this season.
After winning back-to-back New Jersey Athletic Conference Indoor Championships (Feb. 22) for the first time, Rowan followed that up with the first Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in program history on Saturday.
The Profs came away as the best of 50 Division III track and field teams over the two-day meet in a return to the Ocean Breeze Park in Staten Island, New York. Rowan’s victory is perhaps made even sweeter by the fact that the team took 45th out of 56 programs a year ago.
The distance medley relay squad, which featured junior Pat McCurry, freshman Nick Neville, sophomore Brandon Eldershaw and freshman Walter Victor, toppled a university record with a time of 10:03.46 to place first, but missed a bid to the Division III Championships by only seconds.
“It’s very special when you have an opportunity to break a record like that,” Eldershaw said. “We never really focused on breaking the record until the night before the race, but we got together and focused as a group and that was really the reason I think we did so well.”
The previous school record stood since 1979. It was set by a group that included women’s track and field head coach Derick “Ringo” Adamson.
“He’s a great guy and there have been plenty of jokes all year about how good his team was back then,” Eldershaw said. “Ringo is awesome and he was super happy for us when we finally broke it.”
Due to the track’s bank-corner design, a conversion time is applied to every race. In the case of the distance medley relay, seven seconds were added automatically to the finishing time, resulting in a time just short of the nationals qualifier.
“We ran hard and we’re proud of one another,” Eldershaw said. “We were just doing what we love with who we love, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
The team had season-best performances in more than just the distance medley relay over the weekend.
Junior Zach Helm came in at 14:53.34 in the 5000 meter run. Also producing a 2015-16 best in the 400m dash was Victor with a time of 49.61 seconds.
Sophomore Dexter Anderson tied his season-best 22.44 seconds in the 200m dash, and contributed to the season-best time posted by the 4×200 relay team of 1:29.05. Each relay team outperformed themselves from previous bests. The 4×400 squad of freshman Ulysses Santos, sophomore Jonathan Ramirez, Victor and freshman Mikhael Raymond earned a fifth-place spot with a time of 3:20.93.
Sophomore Jeffrey Tucker improved upon his mark in the long jump with a distance of 7.05 meters. Sophomore David Benjamin placed third in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.15.
The sophomore duo will be both be competing in the DIII Championships in Grinnell, Iowa from March 11-12.
This is the second year in a row that Tucker qualified for nationals in the high jump. Last season he earned All-America status with an eight-place mark of 2.04 m. Benjamin enters his first DIII Championships in the 60m hurdles, currently holding a personal-best time of 8.02.
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